Mental Health

Mental Health – Are You Coping?

Suicide has such a devastating impact on the families and friends left behind, with predominantly the question of why left open ended in most cases.

Why did they do it, why didn’t they reach out, why didn’t we see it, why didn’t they seek help and no answer is provided in most cases. So, the emptiness is endured and the subject becomes taboo at family gatherings.

The Department of Mines and Petroleum (DMP), issued a Mines Safety Bulletin No 139[1] in March, which contains some useful information for employers in the resources sector.

There are marked differences between the sexes with males committing suicide approximately 3 times higher than females[2]. Middle-aged men have the highest standardised suicide rate[3],while females are four times more likely to attempt suicide.

Suicide and mental health is a complex issue and many people in the resources sectors are uncomfortable with the subject, but, mental health issues are present in your workforce and you have a responsibility to acknowledge, assist and promote healthy work environments. Mental illness is common, with one in five Australians affected by mental illness in a 12-month period and many more impacted as family and friends.[4]

There are numerous work place rosters within the resource sector, but, one of the most brutal is the four and one roster, with the worker separated from their home environment for four weeks and receiving only one week at home to recover. Frequently due to the isolated location of the work place and the employer’s requirement that workers travel in their own time this really equates to five days at home to recover. Where is the work life balance in that roster?

Imagine the cumulative impact of working in arduous conditions for 28 days and then only having 7 days’ rest to recover before your back at the work place.

The 28 consecutive work periods of 12 hours are unusually long for a high hazard industry and has come about because of the limitation to the numbers of employees that can be accommodated on a work site. Like every other safety critical operational decision, the choice of shift working patterns and tour length are under management control and should be subject to risk assessment and a risk based decision process not just a finance and HR decision.

When incidents and near misses with an element of human error are investigated to root cause level, employee tiredness is often been found to have played a part. However, incident reports rarely contain information on employee tiredness. The reason may well be that individuals are concerned that to do so may result in some personal blame being attributed. This can result in a falsely positive picture of the shift work and fatigue on a worksite that can only be corrected by detailed assessment using human factors techniques, for example a human factors root cause analysis after an incident.

There have been numerous studies conducted on resource sectors personnel that found that the nature of work in the resource sector exposes personnel to a variety of psychosocial and physical environment stressors which may be causally linked to the higher levels of anxiety and tension observed in the resource workforce. Reports found that the resource environment, which combines high noise and vibration areas, separation, loneliness, limited space, exposure to the elements, lack of privacy and reduced sleep quality was found to be directly correlated with reported anxiety.

Resource sector companies have a corporate responsibility to ensure the safe wellbeing on their work force and all individuals exposed to their operations and this includes the mental wellbeing of the workforce.

Does your company and work sites have a Safety Management System that incorporates considerations for employee mental health, fatigue, shift work through collaboration and partnership with your employees?

GHS Health and Safety Consultants with over 27 years’ experience in resource health and Safety can assist you to assess, develop, implement and measure effectiveness of your Safety Management Systems. Contact us via www.ghshealthandsafety.com

If you or anyone you know requires independent confidential assistance contact the resources below.

[1] Government of Western Australia Department of Mines and Petroleum, Mines Safety Bulletin No 139, Suicide awareness for the Western Australian resources sector, March 2017

[2] Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2016). Causes of Death, Australia, 2015. Catalogue No. 3303.0. Belconnen, ACT: Commonwealth of Australia

[3] Australian Bureau of Statistics, Causes of Death Data Australia 2011. 2013, Commonwealth of Australia: ACT Australia

[4] Australian Bureau of Statistics, National Survey of Mental Health and Well-being: Summary of results. Catalogue No. 4326.0. . 2007, Australian Bureau of Statistics: Canberra, Australia.

 

NOPSEMA Safety Alert 64 “Collared Eyebolts as Lifting Equipment”

NOPSEMA, has today released a Safety Alert 64 relating to the use of collared Eyebolts as lifting equipment as a result of a failed lifting activity on a mobile offshore drilling unit (MODU).

What happened

MODU crew were replacing the diverter on a MODU facility operating in Australian waters. The new diverter had been placed on its side in a cradle on the main deck for change-out of the flex-joint. Subsequently, the diverter was lifted with the intent of rotating it from the horizontal to its working, vertical axis. When the diverter had been lifted between 1.2 to 1.8 metres above its cradle, one of the two collared eyebolts used for lifting the diverter body sheared, see Figure 1 below. This caused the diverter to rotate and the second eyebolt to become dislodged from the diverter body. The diverter then fell back into the cradle on the main deck. The combined diverter and the running tool weighed approximately 21.7 tonnes and fell a distance of 1.2 to 1.8 metres. No persons were injured in the incident.

The primary immediate causes of the incident were found to be:

  • The lifting equipment was configured such that the direction of pull was at an angle to the shaft of the eyebolt, so that a ‘fleet angle’ from the vertical was created. An angular load such as this reduces the Working Load Limit (WLL) of the eyebolt significantly. See Figure 2 below.
  • The collar of the eyebolt was not fully flush with the body of the diverter, causing a shearing force due to the fleet angle to be applied to the shaft of the eyebolt, instead of the load being spread across the eyebolt’s collar and the surface of the diverter as per design.

Lift planning was previously addressed in NOPSEMA Safety alert #59 in July 2014, which advised the industry that ‘the detail required in the lifting and rigging plans should be proportional to the complexity and frequency of the operation. Frequent or simple tasks may only require a basic plan while infrequent or complex lifting or rigging operations may require significant engineering.’

You can download the full NOPSEMA Safety Alert 64 here; https://www.nopsema.gov.au/assets/Safety-alerts/A547493.pdf

Significant business impacts to people and assets can and do occur during lifting activities. You should always ensure that all equipment is certified and rated for the activities being conducted. Individuals involved in the activity are certified competent to conduct the activity. A risk assessment has been conducted and documents which identifies if the lifting activity is simple, complex and or complicated. Ensure that a proper engineering lifting plan is provided and followed for complex and complicated lifts. Lastly ensure that all non essential personnel are excluded from the area and barriers are in place.

For assistance contact GHS Health and Safety Consultants at www.ghshealthandsafety.com

 

Safety Reps, HSE

DMP Awards to recognise excellence in the State’s resources sector

Western Australia Department of Mines and Petroleum (DMP), have announced nominations for the 2017 Department of Mines and Petroleum Awards for Excellence are now open.

Previous years the awards for excellence has included the prestigious Golden Gecko environmental awards, Community Partnership Resources Sector Award, and for the first time, the DMP has introduced a new award category “the Safety and Health Resources Sector Awards”.

By recognising exceptional advances and innovations throughout the resources sector, the DMP seeks to encourage higher industry standards to help develop and maintain community confidence in mineral and petroleum activities.

The Safety and Health Resources Sector Awards recognise individuals, teams and companies that have developed a new initiative or an original solution to specific safety and health problems in the workplace.

The Awards aim to promote the application of safety and health innovation across the Western Australian resources sector. This may involve new initiatives and leadership which support the safety, health and wellbeing of the workforce; implementation of a new process, procedure, design and/or introduction of innovation or new equipment in response to specific safety and health challenges.

Entry is open to all Western Australian resources sector companies and/or sites including contractors.

The Community Partnership Resources Sector Award recognises outstanding achievements and leadership in building constructive community partnerships that provide positive outcomes and promote strong guiding behaviour for industry.

The award publicly recognises partnerships between resource companies and communities that extend beyond the normal obligations and requirements to leave a positive and lasting legacy.

That recognition aims to build the reputation of resources and extractive industry operators that are working closely with communities, or community groups, to understand local concerns and issues, provide constructive outcomes, and leave a positive legacy that extends well beyond gaining a social licence to operate.

The Golden Gecko Awards for Environmental Excellence recognise leading practice and innovation in environmental management and provide an opportunity to share experiences between government, industry and the community.

Since the inception of the Golden Gecko Awards, the department has presented 59 Award recipients and 51 Certificate of Merit in acknowledgment of outstanding contributions to develop WA’s resources in a responsible manner.

The awards provides an opportunity to share experiences between Government, industry and the community, while helping operators build the reputation of being a responsible corporate citizen with a responsible attitude to the environment

Details on entries and associated timeline can be found at http://www.dmp.wa.gov.au/About-Us-Careers/Awards-for-excellence-19157.aspx

Guidance, NOPSEMA

NOPSEMA Guidance Note(s) January 2017

NOPSEMA have issued out several guidance notes during January 2017 in several areas that operators need to be aware, and then perform a gap analysis to measure potential impact to their business interests.

  • Guidance note; N-04600-GN1613, Well Integrity Hazard identification and risk assessment.
  • Guidance note; N-04600-GN1616, ALARP in the context of well integrity.
  • Guidance note; N-04600-GN1617, Well integrity control measures and performance standards.
  • Guidance note; N04300-GN0087, Safety Case Lifecycle Management
Draft; Diving project plan (DPP) concordance table.

All guidance notes can be accessed via the NOPSEMA website; https://www.nopsema.gov.au/

 

GHS Health and Safety Consultants can help your business assess the potential impact to your business with the release of these guidance notes from NOPSEMA.

For advice contact us.

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